Whether it’s straight or curly; long or short; black, brown, red, blond or white, your hair helps define your personal style and greatly impacts your appearance. Because your hair is one of the first things that people notice about you, it's natural to want your hair to look its best every day. By understanding the structure of your hair and knowing about the various types of hair and the problems that can affect your locks, you can help ensure that every day is a good hair day.
The Structure of Hair
Each hair on your scalp consists of three layers, the inner most of which is called the medulla. This structure at the heart of your hair is open and fragile. The cortex surrounds the medulla and helps to support it and give it strength. Melanin, the source of hair color, is found in this layer, and the cortex is responsible for retaining the moisture and nutrients necessary to keep the hair healthy. The cuticle is the thin outer covering of the hair, which plays a protective role, helping to prevent damage to the strand.
About 97 percent of the hair strand is composed of keratin. Oils produced by the scalp called sebum and water make up most of the rest of a hair's composition. Hairs emerge from openings on the scalp called follicles and go through a growth phase, a transition phase and a dormant phase before the body sheds the hair and grows a new one.
Types of Hair
Hair care experts and dermatologists typically classify hair due to its physical properties. Coarse hair strands are wide in diameter, while fine hair strands are narrow. Oily hair is a term given to locks that have a sheen or greasy appearance due to excessive sebum production on the scalp. Dry hair describes strands that have become depleted of moisture, making them feel rough or brittle. The amount of body or lift that the hair has in the roots is another way to classify it.
Hair Care Issues
Damage is one of the most common problems that affect hair and can occur due to the effects of chemical treatments, styling with heat, blow-drying and the sun. A hair strand is typically considered damaged when the cuticle layer becomes broken or worn away, leaving the cortex and medulla exposed. Damaged hair is often difficult to manage and may appear limp. If the damage is allowed to progressively worsen, it can lead to other hair care concerns like split ends and breakage.
Frizz is another common problem that most people experience at least once at some point in their lives. This occurs when the cuticle swells due to moisture in the environment, causing the fibers that make up the outer covering of the hair to stand on end. As a result, the hair becomes coiled or kinked. Humidity is one of the biggest causes of frizz, and damaged and dry locks are more likely to suffer from the problem.
Thinning and hair loss can affect both men and women and occur when hair is shed at a rate faster than it is produced. Most often, hair loss is linked to androgenic alopecia, a condition caused by male sex hormones. Other forms of hair loss can develop due to medical conditions, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, immune system dysfunction, medications and other causes.
A number of problems can affect the skin of the scalp as well. Many people develop white or yellow flakes called dandruff. This can be caused by dry skin, buildup from hair care products and yeast. Bacterial and fungal infections can affect the scalp, and some people develop inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema on the tops of their heads.
Hair Care Products
The most common hair care products are shampoos, which remove oil and impurities, and conditioners, which replace lost nutrients and moisture. Hair care brands produce shampoos and conditioners in many different varieties. Typically, formulas are designed for specific types of hair. For example, moisturizing products are for dry hair, clarifying products are for oily hair and volumizing products are for fine and thin hair. Special shampoos and conditioners are made for color-treated hair as well as for hair that has become damaged.
Styling aids are mousses, gels, lotions, serums and sprays that make the hair easier to manage or hold styles in place. Treatments are products that are applied to the hair and then rinsed off or left in place and are designed to address specific hair care concerns. Styling tools are products that help to create different looks. These can include products like brushes and combs and electrical devices like hair dryers, curling irons, flat irons and hot rollers.
Finding the right solutions to manage hair care concerns and improve the look of your hair requires a little research. Take a look at the products that are intended for your hair type or that are made to address your specific hair care concerns. Compare ingredients and read over the directions for use to find the ones best suited to your overall needs and to your lifestyle. By shopping smart, you can find the best hair care solutions to help you have the gorgeous locks of your dreams.
Additional Hair Care Resources:
SkinStore Hair Concerns Library
Hair Care Products
Hair Styling Products
Hair Care Supplements
Hair Care Tools
Hair Care Treatments